Hispanics/Latinos now represent the largest minority population in the United States with a projected three-fold growth by 2050. Despite the rapid growth of this population, the availability of both prior research and public health surveillance data relating to cardiovascular health among Hispanic adults is limited. It has been well-documented that Hispanic/Latino adults have a high prevalence of socioeconomic disadvantage and medical risk factors that may adversely influence future risk of heart disease and stroke. Some data support the notion of a “Hispanic paradox” – namely, that despite high rates of obesity, diabetes, poverty, and lack of access to medical care, Hispanic populations may have relatively low rates of incident cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and coronary death. On the other hand, other conditions such as asthma appear to be highly prevalent among Hispanic/Latino populations. Prior studies of the health status of U.S. Hispanics/Latinos have had important methodological limitations, and have not provided adequate representation of subgroups of the Hispanic/Latino population, defined by national origin, migration status, level of acculturation, socioeconomic status, and other variables that may have profound impact on cardiovascular risk. As a result, in October 2006, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched a six and a half year epidemiological study of health and disease among the U.S. Hispanic/Latino populations.
The Hispanic Community Health Study-Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) has four Field Centers located in Miami, New York City (Bronx), Chicago and San Diego and a Coordinating Center located at the University of North Carolina. Over the next several years the study will recruit a total of 16,000 Hispanics/Latinos representing the following backgrounds: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, and Central and South American. Each of the four participating Field Centers will recruit men and women aged 18 to 74 years of age, with varying income and educational levels, and conduct both a baseline evaluation, and follow-up for incident cardiovascular and pulmonary events and mortality as well as a variety of other major health outcomes. Reflecting the broad scope of the study, the project is jointly funded by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. As a population-based sample from several regions in the US, the study will provide important public health surveillance information on the prevalence, incidence, risk factors, and sequelae of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases among Hispanic/Latino adults.